Although I have been very active in sports and have achieved national recognition while competing, I have never been very handy when it comes to anything mechanical or working with tools.
I have often tried to overcome my problem of being mechanically challenged but have not had great success over the years. This seems rather strange since my father had so many abilities when it came to electrical and mechanical repairs. My father was a master electrician (during the war he built aircraft engines), he could repair any type of automobile, small appliances and built tools that would help him repair mechanical machines. It was not unusual that my father would buy a product and then immediately figure out a way that it could be improved. Many times he would send suggestions into companies, and more often than not, the next company model included some of my father’s suggestions.
While I had hands like glue and never dropped passes in football, and I could shoot and make half-court baskets while sitting on my backside, when these same hands were holding some type of implement used for repairing, they became spastic.
One of my more memorable experiences begin with my deciding to change the spark plugs on my 1969 VW bug. It was nearing the first half of a football game on television and I thought I would go into the garage and change the spark plugs during half time. No problem I imagined. I started working and the first couple of plugs came out well and then the next one was a bit tight. So, I figured I must need a bit more force. It still was not coming out so then I just really forced it. Then everything moved easily because half of the spark plug was in the socket wrench while the other half was in the engine bloc. I called over to my father to take a look, he just smiled! Even he couldn’t help me. So, it was off to the car agency and a nice whopping bill to bore the spark plug out of the engine block. Oh, yes, I didn’t see the rest of that football game.
I don’t know why I am constantly fooled by companies that advertise easy assembly on their products. For me, there is no easy assembly. I have tried a few products from Asia which stress they are easy assembly. Never happens. When I am finished, ends flop around, corners never meet and when I’m finished there is always some extra part lying around.
One Christmas I decided to buy and assembly a gumball machine for my brother. I purchased it because it said easy assembly and no special tools were needed. Now how hard could it be to put together a gumball machine? Here was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate to my brother that I could do something mechanical, if one would consider this as being mechanical?
My brother had followed in my father’s footsteps regarding his mechanical and repair ability so this meant a lot to me. Although my brother Barry is a year and one half younger, he always was the leader when it came to experimentation. I remember one day when my parents had gone on a little weekend trip, my brother mentioned to me that he wondered how the washing machine worked. I told him that I didn’t have any idea. I believe I was 16 and he was 14 and one half. So, out he went to the garage with me following close behind. The next thing I knew he had parts scattered all over the garage floor. What I had, was my eyes bugging out of my head. I didn’t have the slightest conception how to place it back together.
In my early years I never seemed to be able to visualize or picture things clearly in my mind once they were taken apart. I can see things are together when I am looking at them but when something is taken apart I don’t always seem to understand how the parts go together. Later I would understand that I see subjectively and not objectively. Barry did finally put everything back together before our parents returned, so and I was very relieved.
Now after several decades of endless jokes from my brother and father, it was finally my time to show everyone that I could put something together.
After I thought I had finished piecing the gumball machine together, I did note that there were a couple of screws lying around. I was hoping that these were extra parts! I rapped up my brother’s Christmas gift using my go-to-form-fitting rapping material, the always reliable Reynolds Aluminum Foil. Over the years I have utilized this rapping paper for all Christmas presents, birthday presents and I love you gifts, hey, it’s the best!
Christmas day arrived and I brought my completed project to my brother’s house. The moment came when Barry was opening my special present and I was ready to hear him say, ‘I am proud of you Steve.’ Instead his first words were, ‘how do the gum balls get out of the machine?’ What a foolish question I thought. Then I took a closer look at the gumball machine and I began to have that same question.
Even though I couldn’t repair most things, I learned how to get things fixed. After my parents moved to Sedona they would occasionally return and stay with me in Los Angeles. I would leave any small appliance that needed repair, directly in the pathway where my father would be walking. I left them in the hallway to the bathroom, on the kitchen table as well as my father’s favorite spot on the sofa in the television room. My father just couldn’t stand something not moving smoothly or making noise. He would fix appliances, doors, gates and anything that rotated but was not moving smoothly and quietly.
I remember him saying, ‘what is this toaster doing in the hallway’? Or he would say, why is this device making noise?’ Off he would go to the garage. You don’t need to be an expert in everything, you just need to know who to call, or where to place items, when you need something done. J
I have some terrific friends who do all types of construction, electric work and general repairs. I will stand next to them and watch everything they do and just marvel at their ability. When I tell them how lucky they are to be gifted to do these things, they always reply, ‘Steve, we all have different gifts, and when I listen to you talking and joking, I marvel at how uplifted and empowered I feel.’
I guess the moral of this is that you don’t always have to be an expert in all things in order to achieve your goals. We can be lacking in one area but shine in so many others.
With love, in love and through love to you.